Catalina Marketing, best known for Checkout Coupons that offer deals based on what people buy, is launching a mobile-ad network based on a similar premise -- targeting people in mobile apps or websites based on their household-purchase history.
BuyerVision Mobile will reach 70 million U.S. households, more than the 58 million Catalina is already reaching through a BuyerVision program for desktop and laptop computers launched last year, which similarly targets people based on purchases tracked through retailer-loyalty programs Catalina manages.
The company, which was set to announce the program in a session at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on today, is teaming with mobile-targeting firm 4info and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, a venture that pairs Catalina's shopper data with Nielsen's TV and online-audience ratings.
BuyerVision data is fully anonymized, so marketers and media buyers don't know the identities or home addresses of the people targeted or their purchase histories, Catalina executives said. And they said it's entirely based on consumers opting in.
How that information gets mashed up, however, is a little complicated. Once 4info gets consumers' consent to use their phone locations, it tracks their movement over time to determine their home addresses, said Chris Henger, the former Google executive who's exec VP of Catalina Digital Solutions. Then, those addresses are used to match the phone anonymously with shopper-loyalty accounts. While the ads will go to the individual phones of anyone who opts in, they'll target households, not individuals.
The system will use aggregated analytics to track how household-purchase patterns change after consumers have been exposed to the ads, figure return-on-investment metrics and help packaged-goods marketers find new groups to target.
By the second half of the year, Mr. Henger said Catalina intends to use geolocation to serve people ads on their mobile devices as they enter stores based on their purchase patterns.
Todd Morris, exec-VP brand development for Catalina, said, "More relevant ads will make people more interested in mobile advertising," adding that people seeing higher-quality ads from brands they trust will help elevate the medium. Campbell Soup Co.'s Pace salsa brand and another unidentified advertiser are doing pilot tests on BuyerVision Mobile, he said, but it's too soon to evaluate results.
Mr. Morris doesn't expect people to be freaked out by too much relevance, but said Catalina will steer clear of sensitive categories to help prevent that.
Forrester analyst Corinne Munchbach said she sees BuyerVision mobile as a promising first-of-its-kind effort that "could be pretty disruptive."
How consumers will perceive the privacy issues, she said, "is a tricky question for any of these solutions," but she believes Catalina has established proper privacy safeguards.